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Are You Buying Now and Paying Later?

Written by Monica Savaglia
Posted August 3, 2021

If you've been online shopping recently, you might have noticed that your payment options have changed a little bit. Instead of paying with your credit or debit card, a few services have been implemented that have made paying for your purchases a little less stressful and overwhelming.

Seeing the total along with taxes and shipping costs can make a lot of consumers rethink their decision to make a purchase, which means retailers miss out on those sales. However, having the option of a payment plan over several months might make that purchase seem more manageable. 

Most often, buying now and paying later gives the consumer the option to make interest-free payments spread out over a few months. For example, a $100 purchase could be spread out to five monthly payments of $20. 

I’ve used the "buy now, pay later" options for a few of my purchases, especially when I’m buying new furniture for my apartment. I get to buy what I want and get it immediately while making payments that fit into my budget. 

For the financially responsible and people who don’t have problems remembering to make monthly payments on time, this is a nice option to have. However, the "buy now, pay later" system can mean trouble for people who aren’t great at remembering to make payments or might not be able to make them in the upcoming months.

Maybe some consumers think they can make those monthly payments but for some reason even those become too expensive. And of course, with any missed or late payment, the consumer will incur late fees. While this sector can be extremely beneficial to some people, it might just be something that gets other consumers in financial trouble. 

If you’re considering using "buy now, pay later" as an option when shopping, you just need to be realistic about what kind of consumer you are and how financially stable and responsible you are. Whether or not this payment option is for you, this is a sector that's set to soar in the upcoming years. 

On the Path Toward Growth and Valuation

According to Adobe, the "buy now, pay later" industry has seen 215% year-over-year growth in the first two months of 2021. The report also noted that more retailers are participating in this industry. Not only that, but other financial technology companies are advancing their efforts in the industry because of the expected valuations for the future. 

A company that has been around for more than two decades, PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL), has been taking strides to remain a market leader. 

It was only a year ago that PayPal launched its own "buy now, pay later" service, and it appears that it has been paying off for the company. During PayPal's earnings call last week, executives said this service produced $1.5 billion in payments in its most recent quarter, and that there were now more than 7 million customers who have made over 20 million transactions.

Global management consulting company McKinsey & Company said in a report:

Trends fueling growth include digitization, rising merchant adoption, increasing repeat usage among younger consumers, and an expanding set of players.

McKinsey & Company also estimates that due to their growing popularity, "buy now, pay later" options are diverting up to $10 billion in annual revenues away from banks. This estimate is likely to grow over the next few years as people become more comfortable with these payment options.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped push this industry to full speed, as people were stuck at home, shopping online more or contemplating home projects and the best way to pay for them. "Buy now, pay later" services are growing fast both for e-commerce and also at physical retail checkout counters in the U.S.

These Companies Are Taking the "Buy Now, Pay Later" Reins

These "buy now, pay later" companies like Affirm (NASDAQ: AFRM), Afterpay, and Klarna generally make their money on fees from retailers instead of interest paid by consumers. And these retailers are comfortable with paying these fees because having a "buy now, pay later" option makes it easier for customers to say yes to the items they want — the price tag isn’t as big an issue if it’s divided into multiple payments. Affirm’s CEO, Max Levchin, recently said, “We are in the business of turning browsers into buyers.”

Earlier this week, financial payments company Square (NYSE: SQ) — known for its popular Cash App — announced that it will be acquiring Afterpay for $29 billion. This purchase for Square will help the company expand its global payments empire. Merging Afterpay with Square will give even small merchants the chance to offer "buy now, pay later" services at checkout. 

Square’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, said:

We built our business to make the financial system more fair, accessible, and inclusive, and Afterpay has built a trusted brand aligned with those principles. Together, we can better connect our Cash App and Seller ecosystems to deliver even more compelling products and services for merchants and consumers, putting the power back in their hands.

Square says that more than 16 million customers and 100,000 merchants globally use its platform. This acquisition between Square and Afterpay could easily bring more growth and value to the "buy now, pay later" industry in the upcoming years, and companies like Affirm, PayPal, Square, and Klarna are setting themselves up to be leaders.

Until next time,

Monica Savaglia Signature Park Avenue Digest

Monica Savaglia

Monica Savaglia is Wealth Daily’s IPO specialist. With passion and knowledge, she wants to open up the world of IPOs and their long-term potential to everyday investors. She does this through her newsletter IPO Authority, a one-stop resource for everything IPO. She also contributes regularly to the Wealth Daily e-letter. To learn more about Monica, click here.

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